Since its first iteration in 1985, Australia’s National Drug Strategy has been underpinned by an objective of minimising the harms associated with alcohol, tobacco, illicit drug and pharmaceutical drug use. Throughout the Strategy, the term ‘other drugs’ is used in reference to illicit drugs and pharmaceutical drugs.
The concept of harm minimisation is again central to this, the seventh iteration of the National Drug Strategy (the Strategy).
This consistent approach to the national drug policy framework has earned high international regard for its progressive, balanced and comprehensive approach and has made considerable achievements. However, alcohol, tobacco and other drug problems continue to impact individuals, families and communities through negative health, legal, social and economic outcomes.
Importantly, for the first time, the Strategy will have a ten year lifespan, reflecting Australia’s consistent and ongoing approach to national alcohol, tobacco and other drug policy. The Strategy provides a national framework for action that is able to accommodate new and emerging alcohol, tobacco and other drug issues when they arise, and provides a guide for jurisdictions in developing their individual responses to local alcohol, tobacco and other drug issues. It is expected that each jurisdiction will develop their own accompanying strategy action plan which details the local priorities and activities to be progressed during the Strategy lifespan.
The ongoing cooperation between the law enforcement and health sectors is a key success of the previous National Drug Strategy. In addition to providing a national framework to guide coordinated action to minimise the harms to all from alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, this iteration saw the development of a number of sub-strategies to provide direction and context for specific issues.